Long time ago some band came up with a song that was supposed to dissipate fears and bring back the magic of the enchanted evening: don’t fear the reaper. It seems that my friends are now afraid that PSD will bring the amnesty law.
The Romanian elections ended and I’ve heard – on my former classmates WhatsApp group – cries of desperation. I suspect PSD has won (as predicted by many), giving my friends PTSD. Why is this a surprise?
What I’m curious about is whether USR managed to win for the diaspora or anywhere else. I think I’ll check the results in a few hours, after publishing.
LE: It's worth remembering that PSD is still much closer to the center (their positioning is very close to mine, with ALDE even more so, although perhaps for different reasons; this means that their policies are not bad, it’s just their people are compromised) and less embarrassing than the crappy "new parties" that win in other countries. Need I say Trump or Fidesz? See also the neo-nazis / alt-right winning in most of the [known] world. Found an article in Romanian that drives this point home really well – conro-trumpi; also, found an interesting TV show on Liviu Dragnea’s empire (published 2012). Dragnea’s smile in the photo above was not photoshopped – he really does have teeth borrowed from The Walking Dead.
What I gathered from my friends is that they fear that the newly elected parliamentarians will celebrate victory by passing the amnesty law. What I think about that is irrelevant. As a non-voter of PSD & ALDE, you need to come to terms with your reality and your future. Below, you might find something that helps.
As anybody who follows Romanian issues knows (and nobody else does) Romania has prosecuted the most politicians in Europe and possibly the world in the last decade or so, which does not sit well with many of them, who are anxiously waiting their turn.
In my view (and possibly others), these convictions were a huge waste of effort.
- Prosecuting politicians seems to imply that there can be politicians who are not corrupt or do not abuse their function. I think that virtually all successful politicians have skeletons in their closet (under the current system and with the current laws, as applied).
- If most politicians have skeletons in their closet, then these mass convictions are making Romania ungovernable.
- Most convictions are obtained in what seems to be a violation of “beyond reasonable doubt” and with dubious proof. As such, they undermine the trust in the rule of law (for those who have such a thing) and only placate those looking for mob justice, to draw blood. Can a country guarantee that this simple principle (presumption of innocence and all that it entails) applies to regular people if it does not apply to the powerful?
- This witch hunt is sold under the pretext that it brings Romania into modernity / Europe / Schengen or that it even improves our image abroad, or that it responds to the Netherlands objection of corruption / institutional maturity. In reality, we are seeing the opposite effect. The kind of corruption that is being prosecuted in Romania is a normal part of political life in every major Western democracy, never mind the East – just google “Donald Trump conflict of interests”. These convictions make Romania appear in the eyes of the world more corrupt, not less. Romania’s ranking with Transparency International (measuring perceptions of corruption) is unchanged.
- Throughout history, “good” leaders have balanced good deeds (for the public) with things they’ve done for themselves. Any good leader celebrated today elsewhere, and even some from our past, would be prosecuted in today’s Romania for the few selfish things done for themselves.
- It prevents class solidification. Some might consider this a plus, but for most people it has the effect of a “permanent revolution”.
- “Grand corruption” prosecutions are not doubled by a significant offensive against the “little corruption”. Yes, there are some publicity stunts and ads, but that’s insignificant. It is the little corruption that affects people the most and that differentiates Romania from richer countries. That is also the biggest source of dissatisfaction for most people. Unless that is tackled, this is a wasted effort.
I think it’s hard to disagree with most of the points above, except maybe the first one. Here’s a more detailed explanation of why “the vast majority of successful politicians are corrupt”.
The short answer is “to get elected, a politician needs exposure and to get exposure, she needs money”. Most voters do not donate any money to a politician’s campaign – it’s usually special interests that do. Since most people don’t bother reading a platform and their opinions are swayed by advertising and paid messaging alone, a politician’s allegiance stays with their donors, because elections and re-elections are won with their help (as otherwise previously discussed even in the unfinished colectiv).
The distinction between “donor” and “voter” w.r.t. politicians is very similar to the “user” vs “client” with Google. Google provides a bunch of free services to its users, but they make money directly from advertisers, who are actually their clients. Without advertisers, Google would not exist, which explains why there are repeated abuses of user’s privacy rights, while user complaints and bugs are generally prioritized w.r.t. how they affect ad-selling. This is not to say that “Google doesn’t care” or “Google is evil”, but if it acted any different, it would sooner or later cease to exist.
You may not have noticed many problems with Google products. Likewise, there are Romanians who do not see an issue with their politicians and blame Soros and foreigners.
The entire Western political system is designed to make this transfer (from the moneyed to the salesmen politicians) as secret and stress-free as possible. The resulting governments and legislatures have very little to do with voters’ wants or desires. It’s about satisfying donors’ wishes.
So what should you do if you are sufficiently enlightened to understand that both the reptilians and gorillians are having fun with your bum? I think the system needs changing.
- Simplifying, in a dictatorship you don’t have to worry about voting much – score! Somebody else decides for you. You’re gonna hate that, but you can focus on things that truly matter: what to cook, what friends to call, things like that.
- In the republic/democracy/constitutional monarchy (which is really an oligarchy) most of us live in, you have the semblance of choice for the reasons shown above. People spend a lot of time and energy fighting amongst themselves for a candidate that partially fulfills their wishes, only to be immediately upset if their candidate loses, and later disappointed if they win, and nothing ever seems to change. This is what produced the phrase “if voting could change anything, it would be outlawed”. You have the illusion of choice, but in reality you don’t get to choose
anythingmuch. It is also very difficult for “new blood” to make it into politics, as incumbency carries a huge influence and once elected, representatives generally try to raise barriers of entry into this lucrative trade (much like oligopolistic cartels). Elections are driven by “likeable” actors who may have very little to do with the policies they are selling.
- Finally, we have direct democracy, my favorite. Known since the Greeks, it has been implemented for short times in history. The idea is that representatives, if any, have little powers, and people decide everything by vote / referendum. The reason we are given for its limited spread is the fear of “mob rule” / “tyranny of majority” and Socrates condemnation/death. The first one can be addressed constitutionally whereas the second by increasing size or scaling up – see wisdom of the crowds – and also noting that mistakes happen everywhere but are less likely to happen in direct democracy. As implementation, I’d see it implemented first at local level, doing away with (or severely curtailing powers) of Mayors and city councils and allowing people to vote on everything of importance in the neighbourhood. Technology and telecomm could easily make this more feasible than it was centuries ago. Once we have a workable model at local level, we could start delegating more power in that direction and decentralizing, much like Switzerland.
Direct democracy in Romania is unlikely to happen any time soon. In the interim, to level the playing field, political campaigns should be subsidized and capped, and maybe term limits for political representatives together with compulsory exclusions for those with penal records should be implemented.
I finally had a look at the results this far.
I’m not surprised that PSD won, but I did not expect it to win so decidedly. It looks like PSD won everything but 7 counties in Transylvania: 3 won by PNL and 4 by UDMR. For diaspora, 106038 people voted in 417 sections, choosing USR 28.34, PNL: 26.23, PMP:24.76 PSD: 9.98, PRU: 3.5, ALDE: 3, UDMR: 2.42, which is what I was hoping for!
Once again, PSD is not the disaster that many make it to be. Though closer to Putin than the others, is still not as close as our neighbours. Getting closer to Putin may also be necessary with Trump in the White House and Pax Americana long gone. I hope that the BS with Soros being made a scapegoat (and the anti-Semitic and xenophobic tones that went with it) was merely an election “device” and they’re now over. The more nationalist economic policy may not be good for everybody in the long run and will cement their clientele, but it will be positive on the balance, hopefully, for the poor. And if the anti-corruption crusade against the powerful slows down, maybe it will pick up at personal and low level, where it matters.
I leave you with sleep tight, nation.
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